It's becoming tougher and tougher to tell Anthony Rizzo and Joey Votto apart.
Joe Maddon has seen a bit of Votto in Rizzo for years and that has never been the case more than the first couple months of the 2017 season.
The Cincinnati Reds first baseman has led the league in walks four times and on-base percentage five times. Rizzo has yet to accomplish either feat in his seven-year career, but he's taken his offensive profile to Votto levels this season.
Votto is the only player in baseball with a better walk-to-strikeout ratio among qualified hitters.
Rizzo has 39 walks compared to only 31 strikeouts, on pace for 102 free passess and 81 whiffs, both of which would easily surpass his previous career bests (78 walks, 105 strikeouts).
Since May 19 — a span of 89 plate appearances — Rizzo has struck out just five times while drawing 14 walks and posting a .438 on-base percentage.
That's a stark contrast to the changes baseball has seen over the last couple years where strikeouts are at an all-time high as everybody focuses on exit velocity and hitting the ball in the air. Gone are the days where almost every guy choked up on the bat and tried to shorten his swing with two strikes to just put the ball in play.
"He takes it seriously," Maddon said. "He definitely is a throwback when it comes to that method. I think it's beautiful. Him and Votto within our division probably do that as well as anybody I've seen over the last several years.
"Really adapting to the count and not trying to do too much in the count. Literally taking what the pitcher is giving you at that point."
That approach helped the Cubs Sunday as Rizzo keyed the charge to bust out of their losing streak and offensive slump with a first-inning double on the 10th pitch of an at-bat against Antonio Senzatela.
Rizzo got down in the count (1-2) before choking up and shortening up, fouling off four of the next six pitches before he got one he liked, depositing it into the right-field corner and giving the Cubs a much-needed lead and breath of fresh air.
He nearly accomplished the same thing Saturday when he reached out and blooped a two-strike pitch into shallow left field, bumping Kris Bryant to third base with only one out, but the Cubs failed to cash in on that scoring opportunity.
Maddon would like to see more Cubs players follow in Rizzo's footsteps, especially given the Cubs' offensive struggles this season.
Rizzo has already seemingly had an impact on Bryant — the reigning National League MVP — who has cut down on his strikeouts for the second straight season and is now walking more than ever.
"There's nothing wrong with choking up," Maddon said. "There's nothing wrong with shortening up. There's nothing with making adaptations during an at-bat in order to move the baseball. That's all appropriate. It's good.
"I love the fact that either the best or the second-best hitter on the team does those things. Even to the point where I love when minor-league guys watch him within our organization and hopefully wanna emulate him.
"It's a mindset, man. It's something that you have to be willing to do — understand it, understand why you're doing it. It was really a big part of the fabric of the game for a while among many players in the lineup. Now, it's just a couple guys that are able to do it."